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History of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 online

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and had begun trading with them that year at the first trading post estab-
lished by the Ehitch near the site of Albany. These Indians favored the
Dutch in the commercial rivalry that ensued between Holland and
France, and by the first treaty ever made with Indians in America, the
Dutch by their politic treatment of the Indians and keeping all the cove-
nants of this treaty, retained the friendship of the great Confederacy.
The Dutch were naturally traders; business people of keen acumen.
They not only gained the confidence of the confederated nations, but
retained it, and they could depend upon their alliance with the "Magna'*
as they called these tribes. Had they not been thus favored and the
Iroquois not stood between them and the more numerous and better
armed French, the French would have pushed the Dutch to their fort,
and to Manhattan Island. This would have raised and settled the issue
of the French and Indian war years earlier, perhaps a century, and g^ven
to France the vast region west of the Atleghenies won by Great Britain
in the peace of 1763. It is not remote to our history, this kind and sensi-
ble treatment of the Indians by the Dutch. Had it not been thus the
whole history of the region of Western Pennsylvania would have been
changed. What it might have been, in conjecture opens wide fields. As
far off Onondaga and its Long House ruled the destinies of our region,
so also the Dutch-Iroquois alliance must be treated as a factor. The
French could not break through the Iroquoian wall ; the English drove
out the Dutch ; the Iroquois transferred their friendship to the new pro-
prietors; the French pushed onward to the West and Southwest; the
English came over the AUeghenies; the clash came hereabouts; hence
Fort Duquesne, Fort Pitt and Pittsburgh.

It was in 1664 that the Dutch surrendered their rights in New York
to the English. The thrifty Hollanders then had almost the entire trade
with the Iroquois. Then the Dutch trader proved an opportune inter-
preter for the English. The English divined the intent and purposes of
the French first manifested in the attempt of the French to acquire the
beautiful valley of the Mohawk. The Dutch, when the Mohawk braves
had so badly needed firearms to cope with Champlain and the tribes he
had armed, readily supplied the coveted weapons; then changfed entirely

Pittt-ae



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562 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

the ages-long Indian method of fighting. The successful repulse of
several French invasions of the Iroquois country followed. The Iroquois
became more and more beligerent. They took longer and more frequent
excursions ; the council fires at Onondaga blazed as never before. Then
when the English came they saw the advantage of a strong alliance. An
agency was established among the Mohawks in time to fully protect the
English interests. The English knew they must retain the confidence
and friendship of the Iroquois. Nothing else could counteract French
influence, for the French were incessant in their methods. They had
continued for years to send out their missionaries, to build their forts
and to establish their trading posts. They had penetrated the heart of
the Mohawk country several times between 1665-1672, but they could
not subdue that nation. Finally came Sir William Johnson as superin-
tendent of Indian aflfairs for his Britannic Majesty ; taking up his resi-
dence among the Mohawks, he became a power and soon was virtually a
Mohawk. Thenceforth aggressive measures. Thence enters the super-
intendent's deputy at Fort Pitt, Colonel George Croghan, trader, inter-
preter, diplomat, loyalist, land-grabber; the most unique character in
the history of the western country — ^living near Fort Pitt, a pioneer, fear-
less and tireless, concerning whom many pages of history have been
written, should be written in any history of Pittsburgh; Croghan, the
daring; Croghan triumphant; Croghan stripped of power and wealth,
dying in obscurity.

. Darlington, in his book known as "Gist's Journals,"^ devotes many
pages to Croghan's activities and tells all that he was able to learn of his
life, but was not able to learn much of his early life. Darlington found
that Croghan was a native of Ireland and received an ordinary education
in Dublin and came to America in 1743 or 1744. He first resided five
miles west of Harris' Ferry, later Harrisburg. Croghan's location was in
what was subsequently East Pennsboro township, Cumberland county.

Charles A. Hanna says Croghan came to America in 1741 and was
licensed a trader in Pennsylvania in 1744. Governor Morris, in 1755,
wrote that he did not know what Croghan's education was, "which was
in Dublin, nor his religious professions." Croghan's name first appears
in the official correspondence of Pennsylvania in a letter to Secretary
Peters, May 26, 1747. Croghan had his own method of spelling, espe-
cially Indian words. His letters are most curious and most interesting,
for he was keen-sighted and prompt to act.

Croghan, who early earned the title "King of the Traders," was
licensed, according to Darlington, an Indian trader in 1746. He had then
maintained a home on the Susquehanna for three years. Conrad Weiser,
on his mission from the provincial governor of Pennsylvania to the
Indians along the upper Ohio, stopped at Croghan's place the second
night but from Weiser's home in Berks county, distant therefrom forty-
five miles. The story of Weiser, rightfully told, is a volume in itself;

1 "Christopher Gist's Journals, with Historical, Geographical, and Ethnological
Notes and Biographies of His Contemporaries;" by William M. Darlington, Pitts-
burgh, J. R. Wddin Co., 1893*



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GEORGE CROGHAN, KING OF THE TRADERS 563

likewise the story of George Croghan. They were in all respects but
bravery and fidelity, antitypes and of different races ; Weiser a German
from the Palatinate, Croghan an Irishman. They were equally brave
and equally faithful. Their relations with the Indians of the compara-
tively new colony of Pennsylvania, were cotemporaneous for many years
and one or both were present in an official capacity at many or all of the
treaties made with the Indians of their years. It has been told in Chap-
ter X how Weiser's mission was faithfully performed and favorable
results accomplished. Weiser was accompanied by some of Croghan's
men with goods for the Indians. Weiser recorded in his journal, under
date of August 30, 1748, that the preceding evening they had
lodged at Coscosky at George Croghan's trading house. Coscoskey, vari-
ously spelled, was an Indian town on the Mahoning, about the present
site of Mahoningtown,* in Lawrence county, Pennsylvania. The usual
Indian name for this town as used by Judge Agnew is Kushkusking.

As Croghan was first known as a licensed trader in 1746, it is reason-
able to presume that he came immediately to the Ohio. The route was
not through the Pittsburgh of to-day, but over the mountains from the
Juniata valley at Kittanning Point, thence through the open ground,
known as "the Clearfields'* to the Kiskiminetas, to Chartier's Old Town,
about the site of Tarentum, and thence across the country to the Ohio
at Logstown, this town site just below old Economy. This was the
Kittanning Path or main Indian trail to and from the Ohio (see Chapter
IX, and Weiser's Journal, Chapter X). Even Gist, in his first journey,
did not see the "Point" or the Forks of the Ohio as Pittsburghers know it.

From the time of Croghan's entry into the Ohio country until his death
in 1782 he was a power among the western Indians and his whole life a
thriller. His great standing among the Indians through his official con-
nection gave him the opportunity to acquire vast tracts of land, the title
to which he never doubted had been fully vested in himself by all the
necessary procedure, but he was destined to die penniless, a disappointed
and discredited old man. Croghan's coming to the Ohio antedated Wash-
ington's and Gist's by seven years. Celoron and his expedition from the
governor-general of Canada did not come until 1749. Christian Frederick
Post did not come until three years after Braddock's defeat. Croghan,
therefore, was strictly a pioneer, and he may be called also a maker of
history.

Parkman has much to say of Croghan. Milton Scott Lytle, historian
of Huntingdon county, likewise, for Croghan left his home on the Sus-
quehanna, in Cumberland county, and made himself a new abode at Augh-
wick, now Shirleysburg, in Huntingdon county. Incidentally, he got a
few square miles of land in that region. A recent historian, Charles A-
Hanna (1910), has also much to say of Croghan. Croghan was. sent by
Governor James Hamilton, of Pennsylvania, to Logstown in 1750, and
wrote his excellency a letter from there under date of December 16,
1750. He also kept an accurate journal of this journey, and while at

3See Chapter X, ante, and Tife of Weiser;" Walton; also Post's Journals, Cha]^
ter XXI herein.



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564 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

Logstown made a treaty with the Six Nations, or Iroquois, and their
allies there, of date May 1.8, 1751. This was thre years before the erec-
tion of Fort Duquesne, and a year before Gist's treaty in behalf of the
recently formed Ohio Company in the attempt to take some of the Indian
trade from the hands of the Pennsylvanians, and it was the beginning of
the long-drawn-out dispute between the two provinces over the territory
about "the Forks."® In the Braddock expedition Croghan, who was
already an English-Indian interpreter, joined Braddock with about fifty
friendly Indians under the command of the celebrated Oneida sachem,
Scarrooady, the successor of Tanacharison, the Half-King. Croghan suc-
ceeded in bringing together about 100 other Indians, who might have
been of great use to Braddock, but that general spumed them even as
scouts and guides. Old accounts say Braddock was so bitter that the
Indians felt the slight greatly and that their offer of services should be so
utterly despised was a source of humiliation to them. Braddock, as has
been related, had his own peculiar reasons for dispensing with these
Indians and there were not one hundred warriors, for the Indian followers
of Braddock numbered many women and children.

Continuing in the trading business with the Indians after the estab-
lishment of the British supremacy at Fort Pitt, Croghan became more
and more a man of standing with all classes and was entrusted by the
governor with the defence of the borders of the province of Pennsyl-
vania, after Braddock's defeat. Well equipped for treating with the
Indians by reason of his intimate knowledge of their character, speaking
their languages, showing much excellence in military matters also, Crog-
han became a power for good. Coming under the notice about this time
of Sir William Johnson, a fellow countryman, his royal majesty's super-
intendent of Indian affairs in North America, Johnson made Croghan
his deputy at Fort Pitt and Croghan here made history. Croghan's cor-
rect title was rather formidable and according to the minutes of the gen-
eral conferences held at Fort Pitt in 1759 was "George Croghan, Esquire,
Deputy Agent to the Honorable William Johnson, Bart., His Majesty's
Agent, and Superintendent of Indian affairs in the Northern District of
North America with the chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations, Dela-
wares, Shawanese, and the Wyandotts, who represent eight nations,
Altoonas, Chepawas, Putewatimes, Twightwees, Cuscukees, Kecapos,
Shockeys and Musquakes."

The names of the Indian tribes given under Croghan's official desig-
nation comprised all the tribes ranging the country for many hundreds
of miles, from Fort Pitt north to the lakes and west to Illinois. In West-
em Pennsylvania the Six Nations or Iroquois, generally called by the
English "Mingoes," were the dominant power and the Senecas, their most
western tribe, the most frequent visitors in the region. The Delawares,
Wyandots and Shawanese were then tributary and subservient as con-
quered nations. However, all lived peacefully together and this peace
was broken by the white men, French and English, who came with rum



8Sec Chapter XXVI, ante.



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GEORGE CROGHAN, KING OF THE TRADERS 565

and the lust of land, and the glory of conquest, in the name of each's
most Christian majesty, and we of these days are apt to forget that the
history of our region is written in human blood. Tribal relations sat
loosely.* We have authority for the mixup in tribes about the Forks of
the Ohio in various histories. Even the Nippisings from Canada and
warriors from far oflF Maine came racing hither at times.

Croghan took part in all of Colonel Bouquet's conferences and was
present at Bouquet's treaty with*the Delawares at Pittsburgh, December
4, 1758. Colonel John Armstrong was also present and Henry Montour,
the official interpreter. Croghan finds much mention by Christian Fred-
erick Post, in Post's second journal in 1758, recording Post's perilous
journey to the Ohio (see Chapter XXI).

Croghan, in his journal forwarded to Governor Morris, January 12,
1754, records Washington's return from his mission, to Venango. In
this journal, Croghan tells also of a trip to Shannopin's Town and Logs-
town. Shannopin's Town was on the Allegheny about opposite Herrs
Island.

These journals of Weiser, Croghan and Post and the letters of Crog-
han to Governors Hamilton and Morris are most interesting documents
and are among the earliest writings pertaining to the region of the upper
Ohio.. They rank well with Washington's.

But Croghan was destined to shine as a diplomat and cross the sea
again. Sir William Johnson sent him to England in 1763 to confer with
the ministry about the Indian border line. On that voyage he was
wrecked on the coast of France.

Croghan had built himself a home on the Allegheny about what is
now Fifty-second street, Pittsburgh. He called it a "hutt." This was
about four miles from Fort Pitt, and rather isolated, but Croghan had no
fear of the Indians. During the siege of Fort Pitt in 1763 by the Indians
during Pontiac's war, Croghan's mansion was burned. However, it was
rebuilt, for Washington in his journey through Pittsburgh speaks of
dining there with Colonel Croghan on October 19, 1770 (see Chapter
XXV).

Croghan and others accompanied Washingfton on this trip as far as
Logstown on their journey down the Ohio.

Washington, while in Pittsburgh at this time, met the subsequently
notorious Dr. Connolly, who was Croghan's nephew and chief emissary
for Governor Dunmore in the effort to make the region of the Ohio Vir-
ginia territory. Croghan, although long a Pennsylvanian, was on the
Virginia side and this on account of his landed interests. The most
interesting feature in the career of Croghan was his disposition to be-
come the possessor of vast tracts of land, especially about the Forks of
the Ohio, and at one time he was vested with over half of the present
county of Allegheny. The south shore of the Ohio has a distinct his-
tory from the land between the rivers and the North Side has yet another.

South of the Monongahela and the Ohio, Virginia titles prevailed and
stood and they were not so prolific of litigation as the region north and



«See Chapter III, ante. Washington's "Journal," Oct tg, 1770.



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S66 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

west of the Ohio and Allegheny by reason of the various Indian treaties
and the Pennsylvania statutes relating to the so-called "depreciation and
donation lands."

The south shore was the English shore — ^perhaps more correctly the
Virginia shore. There were times when the boundary disputes between
Virginia and the province or proprietaries of Pennsylvania became most
acute and one of these periods was in 1768. In that year Croghan was in
conference with his chief, Sir William Johnson, at Fort Stanwix, now
Rome, New York. Here Croghan remained for some months waiting for
the gathering of the chiefs of the Six Nations prior to the opening of the
Great Council which finally began October 21 and lasted uptil Novem-
ber 6.*^

Croghan was there for his own purposes. He was after land. "Crog-
han was always keen to acquire land," Lytle says. He had nineteen years
previously obtained grants to many thousand acres in the vicinity of
Fort Pitt and the deeds to these alleged grants he pul on record in Au-
gusta county, Virginia, at Staunton, then, as now, the county seat. The
date of Croghan's first deed is August 2, 1749. The chiefs of the Iroquois,
the parties of the first part to this grant were Tanacharison, Scarrooady
and Cosswentanica, and the consideration of goods and merchandise was,
as in any deed, duly recited. These goods were such as all Indian traders
carried — strouds, blankets, shirts, calicos, vermillion, knives, gunpowder,
tobacco, lead, even twenty dozen jewsharps. Strouds was a coarse warm
blanket cloth made in Gloucestershire, England, especially for this trade.
A Stroud was usually exchanged for a "buck and a doe," that is the skins
of these. During the conference at Fort Stanwix, Croghan received a
cpnfirmation of these grants of 1749 and his confirming deed was dated
November 4, 1768. Croghan had partly attained his purpose, but the
sequel is most interesting.

The deed of 1749 was three-fold ; it made three grants. One was of
100,000 acres on the south side of the Monongahela, which grant ex-
tended from a run nearly opposite Turtle creek (Kennywood Park) down
the Ohio to Raccoon creek below Beaver ; thence up that creek ten miles,
thence in a straight line to the place of beginning.

The second great grant was upward 6f 100,000 acres on both sides of
the Youghiogheny, either up or down, so as to include the Indian village
called Sewickley (Sewichle) Old Town (about the present site of West
Newton). The third deed conveyed 40,000 acres beginning on the east
side of the Ohio (the Allegheny) to the northward of the old Indian
village of Shannopin's Town at the mouth of a run called Two Mile run
(about Thirty-third street, Pittsburgh, the run long ago sewered), then
up said run to where it interlocked with the heads of Two Mile spring;
thence down the Two Mile spring by the several courses thereof to the
river Monongahela ; thence up said river Monongahela to the mouth of
Turtle creek; thence by the said creek to the head of Plum creek and
down the latter stream to the Allegheny to the place of beginning.



B"01den Tixnc," Vol. I, p. 400; "Wilderness Trafl," Vol. II, p. sg.



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GEORGE CROGHAN, KING OF THE TRADERS 567

It is easy to observe by these descriptions to how much of the present
Allegheny county and the city of Pittsburgh Croghan held some title.
Two Mile spring was the old Yellow run in Minersvillc, Pitt township,
from 1868 to 1908 the Thirteenth Ward of Pittsburgh, now the Fifth
Ward. This run came down the deep ravine between Gazzam's and
Ruch's Hills and emptied into the Monongahela at Brady street, under
the present Twenty-second street bridge.

On this last tract there was included the Croghan homestead with 1,352
acres along the Allegheny in the present Tenth Ward, Pittsburgh, where
Croghan had settled in 1762 and built the mansion known as Croghan
Hall. William M. Darlington says Croghan's manor was on the south
bank of the Allegheny opposite the mouth of Pine creek. This land was
across the river from White Mingo's "Castle," the latter marked on a
plat of the survey as being on the east side of Pine creek. The 1,352
acres were actually surveyed to Croghan and this warrant figures in all
the abstracts of property in this part of Pittsburgh, much of which sub-
subsequently passed to Conrad Winebiddle and by Winebiddle to his
heirs.* This grant is recognized in the description of Penn's Manor in
Pittsburgh, "up the south side of the Allegheny River 762 perches to a
Spanish oak at the comer of Croghan's claim," and is the only land of
Croghan's in Allegheny or Washington counties to which title searchers
find reference of record in the offices of the recorder of deeds, unless we
except a grant near Verona in 1769.

In 1910, in investigating Croghan's landed operations in Western
Pennsylvania, Mr. Boyd Crumrine, historian of Washington county, was
consulted, and also Mr. John E. Potter, of Pittsburgh, treasurer of the
Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, both excellent authorities
on land titles. Crumrine replied as follows :

I know of no land held by George Washington in what is now Allegheny county.
He did hold about 1200 acres in what was afterwards Westmoreland county, back of
Bellevemon. He had Colonel William Crawford lay a soldier's warrant on a square
body of lands in what is now Mt Pleasant township, Washington county, for which he
obtained a patent from Lord Dunmore, governor of Virginia, in 1774- I have never seen
this patent, nor a record of it, although I have seen it referred to often. These lands,
2813 acres, I think, lay on the headwaters of Miller's Run which strikes Bridgeville in
Allegheny county. They, as well as the Westmoreland county tract, were taken up for
him about 1770 by Colonel William Crawford. See the Washington Crawford cor-
respondence, and my "History of Washington County," in the index. These lands
were within the lines of George Croghan's Indian grant of 1768. The lines of. that
grant, surveyed to contain 30,000 acres, began opposite Turtle creek, thence down the
Monongahela and Ohio rivers to the mouth of Raccoon creek; thence up Raccoon
creek ten miles ; thence from that point straight across to a point opposite Turtle creek,
the place of beginning. This last line, a long one, cut through Washington ooimty. A
part of Washington county (which originally contained all the land west and south of
the Monongahela) was cut off in 1788 to make a part of Allegheny county, but the part
of the Croghan tract embracing the Washington lands was left in Washington county.

Whilst Washington was soldiering in the Revolution and acting as President, his
lands were occupied or squatted on by ten or a dozen settlers. In 1784 he brought an*
ejectment in our county against them to oust them. The settlers to defeat him set up
the Indian grant to Croghan, which failed of effect. Washington before his death sold

e^lden Time;" VoL I, p. 419.



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568 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

all these lands, in some cases to the settlers on them, and eventually got his money
from them. Look up in my history the sketch of Mt. Pleasant township, and I think
you will find what you want. See also that part of the History covering the Civil
and Legal.7

Mr. Potter replied that he knew of no references of record to any of
the Croghan grants in any of the tracts south of the rivers, and that they
were ignored except in cases where the parties taking title under him had
their title subsequently confirmed by a regular *'Return of Survey and
grant of patent from the Pennsylvania Land Offices." Mr. Potter stated
also that there are no conveyances of record of any of Washington's lands
within the limits of Allegheny county. The Washington county tract,
located in what is now Mt. Pleasant township, was patented to Wash-
ington by the Colony of Virginia, July 5, 1774. It contained 2,813 acres,
which Washington and Martha, his wife, conveyed to Matthew Ritchey
by deed of June i, 1796. (See Deed Book I, Volume I, page 324, in
office Recorder of Deeds, Washington county). Another patent was
granted on a portion of this tract by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
to Matthew Hilles, a former owner, by patent dated March 10, 1788.
The recitals in these conveyances make no reference to the George Crog-
han tracts.

From examination of the records of plans of lots within the bound-
aries of Croghan's claims, no mention is made of his Indian titles in Alle-
gheny county south of the Monongahela and Ohio. In former Chartiers
borough, now a ward in the borough of Carnegie, the record of a deed in
Jacob Doolittle's plan commences : "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to
John Campbell — Warrant. No date, and not of record, grants 332 acres
on Chartiers Creek called Cafnpbellsbarg".

Campbell's will made July 5, 1786, was probated October 14, 1800,
hence this warrant antedates July, 1786. This is within Croghan's origi-
nal grant.

Again in former Elliott borough, now 20th Ward, Pittsburgh, for-
merly Chartiers township in Stephen Woods' and James J. Brown's
plan, evidently without the bounds of the Penn Manor, the abstract
begins: "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to Daniel Elliott, called



Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 80 of 81)